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The blithedale romance


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Title:TheBlithedaleRomance
Author:NathanielHawthorne
PostingDate:November19,2008[EBook#2081]
ReleaseDate:February,2000
Language:English

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TheBlithedaleRomance
by



NathanielHawthorne


TableofContents
I. OLDMOODIE
II. BLITHEDALE
III. AKNOTOFDREAMERS
IV. THESUPPER-TABLE
V. UNTILBEDTIME
VI. COVERDALE'SSICKCHAMBER
VII. THECONVALESCENT
VIII. AMODERNARCADIA
IX. HOLLINGSWORTH,ZENOBIA,PRISCILLA
X. AVISITORFROMTOWN
XI. THEWOOD-PATH
XII. COVERDALE'SHERMITAGE
XIII. ZENOBIA'SLEGEND
XIV. ELIOT'SPULPIT
XV. ACRISIS
XVI. LEAVE-TAKINGS
XVII. THEHOTEL
XVIII. THEBOARDING-HOUSE
XIX. ZENOBIA'SDRAWING-ROOM
XX. THEYVANISH
XXI. ANOLDACQUAINTANCE
XXII. FAUNTLEROY
XXIII. AVILLAGEHALL
XXIV. THEMASQUERADERS
XXV. THETHREETOGETHER
XXVI. ZENOBIAANDCOVERDALE
XXVII. MIDNIGHT
XXVIII. BLITHEDALEPASTURE
XXIX. MILESCOVERDALE'SCONFESSION


I.OLDMOODIE
The evening before my departure for Blithedale, I was returning to my
bachelorapartments,afterattendingthewonderfulexhibitionoftheVeiledLady,
whenanelderlymanofrathershabbyappearancemetmeinanobscurepartof


thestreet.
"Mr.Coverdale,"saidhesoftly,"canIspeakwithyouamoment?"
AsIhavecasuallyalludedtotheVeiledLady,itmaynotbeamisstomention,
forthebenefitofsuchofmyreadersasareunacquaintedwithhernowforgotten
celebrity, that she was a phenomenon in the mesmeric line; one of the earliest
thathadindicatedthebirthofanewscience,ortherevivalofanoldhumbug.
Since those times her sisterhood have grown too numerous to attract much
individualnotice;nor,infact,hasanyoneofthemcomebeforethepublicunder
such skilfully contrived circumstances of stage effect as those which at once
mystifiedandilluminatedtheremarkableperformancesoftheladyinquestion.
Nowadays,inthemanagementofhis"subject,""clairvoyant,"or"medium,"the
exhibitoraffectsthesimplicityandopennessofscientificexperiment;andeven
ifheprofesstotreadasteportwoacrosstheboundariesofthespiritualworld,
yet carries with him the laws of our actual life and extends them over his
preternaturalconquests.Twelveorfifteenyearsago,onthecontrary,allthearts
ofmysteriousarrangement,ofpicturesquedisposition,andartisticallycontrasted
lightandshade,weremadeavailable,inordertosettheapparentmiracleinthe
strongestattitudeofoppositiontoordinaryfacts.InthecaseoftheVeiledLady,
moreover,theinterestofthespectatorwasfurtherwroughtupbytheenigmaof
heridentity,andanabsurdrumor(probablysetafloatbytheexhibitor,andatone
time very prevalent) that a beautiful young lady, of family and fortune, was
enshroudedwithinthemistydraperyoftheveil.Itwaswhite,withsomewhatof
a subdued silver sheen, like the sunny side of a cloud; and, falling over the
wearerfromheadtofoot,wassupposedtoinsulateherfromthematerialworld,
from time and space, and to endow her with many of the privileges of a
disembodiedspirit.
Herpretensions,however,whethermiraculousorotherwise,havelittletodo


withthepresentnarrative—except,indeed,thatIhadpropounded,fortheVeiled
Lady'spropheticsolution,aqueryastothesuccessofourBlithedaleenterprise.
The response, by the bye, was of the true Sibylline stamp,—nonsensical in its
first aspect, yet on closer study unfolding a variety of interpretations, one of
whichhascertainlyaccordedwiththeevent.Iwasturningoverthisriddleinmy
mind,andtryingtocatchitsslipperypurportbythetail,whentheoldmanabove
mentionedinterruptedme.
"Mr. Coverdale!—Mr. Coverdale!" said he, repeating my name twice, in
ordertomakeupforthehesitatingandineffectualwayinwhichheutteredit."I
askyourpardon,sir,butIhearyouaregoingtoBlithedaletomorrow."
Iknewthepale,elderlyface,withthered-tiptnose,andthepatchoverone
eye; and likewise saw something characteristic in the old fellow's way of
standingunderthearchofagate,onlyrevealingenoughofhimselftomakeme
recognize him as an acquaintance. He was a very shy personage, this Mr.
Moodie; and the trait was the more singular, as his mode of getting his bread
necessarily brought him into the stir and hubbub of the world more than the
generalityofmen.
"Yes,Mr.Moodie,"Ianswered,wonderingwhatinteresthecouldtakeinthe
fact,"itismyintentiontogotoBlithedaleto-morrow.CanIbeofanyserviceto
youbeforemydeparture?"
"If you pleased, Mr. Coverdale," said he, "you might do me a very great
favor."
"Averygreatone?"repeatedI,inatonethatmusthaveexpressedbutlittle
alacrityofbeneficence,althoughIwasreadytodotheoldmananyamountof
kindnessinvolvingnospecialtroubletomyself."Averygreatfavor,doyousay?
Mytimeisbrief,Mr.Moodie,andIhaveagoodmanypreparationstomake.But
begoodenoughtotellmewhatyouwish."
"Ah,sir,"repliedOldMoodie,"Idon't quiteliketodothat;and,onfurther
thoughts,Mr.Coverdale,perhapsIhadbetterapplytosomeoldergentleman,or
to some lady, if you would have the kindness to make me known to one, who
mayhappentobegoingtoBlithedale.Youareayoungman,sir!"
"Doesthatfactlessenmyavailabilityforyourpurpose?"askedI."However,
ifanoldermanwillsuityoubetter,thereisMr.Hollingsworth,whohasthreeor


fouryearstheadvantageofmeinage,andisamuchmoresolidcharacter,anda
philanthropisttoboot.Iamonlyapoet,and,sothecriticstellme,nogreataffair
at that! But what can this business be, Mr. Moodie? It begins to interest me;
especiallysinceyourhintthatalady'sinfluencemightbefounddesirable.Come,
Iamreallyanxioustobeofservicetoyou."
But the old fellow, in his civil and demure manner, was both freakish and
obstinate; and he had now taken some notion or other into his head that made
himhesitateinhisformerdesign.
"Iwonder,sir,"saidhe,"whetheryouknowaladywhomtheycallZenobia?"
"Notpersonally,"Ianswered,"althoughIexpectthatpleasureto-morrow,as
shehasgotthestartoftherestofus,andisalreadyaresidentatBlithedale.But
have you a literary turn, Mr. Moodie? or have you taken up the advocacy of
women'srights?orwhatelsecanhaveinterestedyouinthislady?Zenobia,by
the bye, as I suppose you know, is merely her public name; a sort of mask in
which she comes before the world, retaining all the privileges of privacy,—a
contrivance,inshort,likethewhitedraperyoftheVeiledLady,onlyalittlemore
transparent.Butitislate.WillyoutellmewhatIcandoforyou?"
"Please to excuse me to-night, Mr. Coverdale," said Moodie. "You are very
kind;butIamafraidIhavetroubledyou,when,afterall,theremaybenoneed.
Perhaps,withyourgoodleave,Iwillcometoyourlodgingsto-morrowmorning,
beforeyousetoutforBlithedale.Iwishyouagood-night,sir,andbegpardon
forstoppingyou."
Andso hesliptaway;and, ashedidnotshowhimselfthenextmorning,it
wasonlythroughsubsequenteventsthatIeverarrivedataplausibleconjecture
astowhathisbusinesscouldhavebeen.Arrivingatmyroom,Ithrewalumpof
cannelcoaluponthegrate,lightedacigar,andspentanhourinmusingsofevery
hue,fromthebrightesttothemostsombre;being,intruth,notsoveryconfident
as at some former periods that this final step, which would mix me up
irrevocably with the Blithedale affair, was the wisest that could possibly be
taken.ItwasnothingshortofmidnightwhenIwenttobed,afterdrinkingaglass
ofparticularlyfinesherryonwhichIusedtopridemyselfinthosedays.Itwas
the very last bottle; and I finished it, with a friend, the next forenoon, before
settingoutforBlithedale.


II.BLITHEDALE
There can hardly remain for me (who am really getting to be a frosty
bachelor,withanotherwhitehair,everyweekorso,inmymustache),therecan
hardly flicker up again so cheery a blaze upon the hearth, as that which I
remember,thenextday,atBlithedale.Itwasawoodfire,intheparlorofanold
farmhouse,onanAprilafternoon,butwiththefitfulgustsofawintrysnowstorm
roaringinthechimney.Vividlydoesthatfiresidere-createitself,asIrakeaway
theashesfromtheembersinmymemory,andblowthemupwithasigh,forlack
of more inspiring breath. Vividly for an instant, but anon, with the dimmest
gleam,andwithjustaslittlefervencyformyheartasformyfinger-ends!The
staunch oaken logs were long ago burnt out. Their genial glow must be
represented,ifatall,bythemerestphosphoricglimmer,likethatwhichexudes,
rather than shines, from damp fragments of decayed trees, deluding the
benightedwandererthroughaforest.Aroundsuchchillmockeryofafiresome
fewof usmightsitonthe witheredleaves,spreadingout eachapalm towards
theimaginarywarmth,andtalkoverourexplodedschemeforbeginningthelife
ofParadiseanew.
Paradise,indeed!Nobodyelseintheworld,Iamboldtoaffirm—nobody,at
least,inourbleaklittleworldofNewEngland,—haddreamedofParadisethat
dayexceptasthepolesuggeststhetropic.Nor,withsuchmaterialsaswere at
hand, could the most skilful architect have constructed any better imitation of
Eve'sbowerthanmightbeseeninthesnowhutofanEsquimaux.Butwemade
asummerofit,inspiteofthewilddrifts.
It was an April day, as already hinted, and well towards the middle of the
month. When morning dawned upon me, in town, its temperature was mild
enough to be pronounced even balmy, by a lodger, like myself, in one of the
midmosthousesofabrickblock,—eachhousepartakingofthewarmthofallthe
rest, besides the sultriness of its individual furnace—heat. But towards noon
there had come snow, driven along the street by a northeasterly blast, and
whiteningtheroofsandsidewalkswithabusiness-likeperseverancethatwould
havedonecredittoourseverestJanuarytempest.Itsetaboutitstaskapparently
asmuchinearnestasifithadbeenguaranteedfromathawformonthstocome.


The greater, surely, was my heroism, when, puffing out a final whiff of cigarsmoke,Iquittedmycoseypairofbachelor-rooms,—withagoodfireburningin
thegrate,andaclosetrightathand,wheretherewasstillabottleortwointhe
champagne basket and a residuum of claret in a box,—quitted, I say, these
comfortable quarters, and plunged into the heart of the pitiless snowstorm, in
questofabetterlife.
Thebetterlife!Possibly,itwouldhardlylooksonow;itisenoughifitlooked
sothen.Thegreatestobstacletobeingheroicisthedoubtwhetheronemaynot
begoingtoproveone'sselfafool;thetruestheroismistoresistthedoubt;and
the profoundest wisdom to know when it ought to be resisted, and when to be
obeyed.
Yet,afterall,letusacknowledgeitwiser,ifnotmoresagacious,tofollowout
one's daydream to its natural consummation, although, if the vision have been
worth the having, it is certain never to be consummated otherwise than by a
failure.Andwhatofthat?Itsairiestfragments,impalpableastheymaybe,will
possessavaluethatlurksnotinthemostponderousrealitiesofanypracticable
scheme. They are not the rubbish of the mind. Whatever else I may repent of,
therefore, let it be reckoned neither among my sins nor follies that I once had
faith and force enough to form generous hopes of the world's destiny—yes!—
andtodowhatinmelayfortheiraccomplishment;eventotheextentofquitting
awarmfireside,flingingawayafreshlylightedcigar,andtravellingfarbeyond
thestrikeofcityclocks,throughadriftingsnowstorm.
There were four of us who rode together through the storm; and
Hollingsworth,whohadagreedtobeof thenumber, wasaccidentallydelayed,
andsetforthatalaterhouralone.Aswethreadedthestreets,Irememberhow
thebuildingsoneithersideseemedtopresstoocloselyuponus,insomuchthat
our mighty hearts found barely room enough to throb between them. The
snowfall,too,lookedinexpressiblydreary(Ihadalmostcalleditdingy),coming
downthroughanatmosphereofcitysmoke,andalightingonthesidewalkonly
to be moulded into the impress of somebody's patched boot or overshoe. Thus
the track of an old conventionalism was visible on what was freshest from the
sky.Butwhenweleftthepavements,andourmuffledhoof-trampsbeatupona
desolateextentofcountryroad,andwereeffacedbytheunfetteredblastassoon
asstamped,thentherewasbetterairtobreathe.Airthathadnotbeenbreathed
onceandagain!airthathadnotbeenspokenintowordsoffalsehood,formality,
anderror,likealltheairoftheduskycity!


"Howpleasantitis!"remarkedI,whilethesnowflakesflewintomymouth
themomentitwasopened."Howverymildandbalmyisthiscountryair!"
"Ah,Coverdale,don'tlaughatwhatlittleenthusiasmyouhaveleft!"saidone
ofmycompanions."Imaintainthatthisnitrousatmosphereisreallyexhilarating;
and, at any rate, we can never call ourselves regenerated men till a February
northeastershallbeasgratefultousasthesoftestbreezeofJune!"
Soweallofustookcourage,ridingfleetlyandmerrilyalong,bystonefences
thatwerehalfburiedinthewave-likedrifts;andthroughpatchesofwoodland,
wherethetree-trunksopposedasnow-incrustedsidetowardsthenortheast;and
within ken of deserted villas, with no footprints in their avenues; and passed
scattered dwellings, whence puffed the smoke of country fires, strongly
impregnatedwiththepungentaromaofburningpeat.Sometimes,encounteringa
traveller, we shouted a friendly greeting; and he, unmuffling his ears to the
blusterandthesnow-spray,andlisteningeagerly,appearedtothinkourcourtesy
worthlessthanthetroublewhichitcosthim.Thechurl!Heunderstoodtheshrill
whistleoftheblast,buthadnointelligenceforourblithetonesofbrotherhood.
Thislackoffaithinourcordialsympathy,onthetraveller'spart,wasoneamong
theinnumerabletokenshowdifficultataskwehadinhandforthereformation
oftheworld.Werodeon,however,withstillunflaggingspirits,andmadesuch
good companionship with the tempest that, at our journey's end, we professed
ourselvesalmostloathtobidtherudeblusterergood-by.But,toownthetruth,I
was little better than an icicle, and began to be suspicious that I had caught a
fearfulcold.
Andnowwewereseatedbythebriskfiresideoftheoldfarmhouse,thesame
fire that glimmers so faintly among my reminiscences at the beginning of this
chapter.Therewesat,withthesnowmeltingoutofourhairandbeards,andour
faces all ablaze, what with the past inclemency and present warmth. It was,
indeed,arightgoodfirethatwefoundawaitingus,builtupofgreat,roughlogs,
and knotty limbs, and splintered fragments of an oak-tree, such as farmers are
wont to keep for their own hearths, since these crooked and unmanageable
boughs could never be measured into merchantable cords for the market. A
family of the old Pilgrims might have swung their kettle over precisely such a
fireasthis,only,nodoubt,abiggerone;and,contrastingitwithmycoal-grate,I
feltsomuchthemorethatwehadtransportedourselvesaworld-widedistance
fromthesystemofsocietythatshackledusatbreakfast-time.


Good, comfortable Mrs. Foster (the wife of stout Silas Foster, who was to
managethefarmatafairstipend,andbeourtutorintheartofhusbandry)bade
usaheartywelcome.Atherback—abackofgenerousbreadth—appearedtwo
young women, smiling most hospitably, but looking rather awkward withal, as
not well knowingwhatwas tobetheirpositioninournewarrangementofthe
world.Weshookhandsaffectionatelyallround,andcongratulatedourselvesthat
theblessedstateofbrotherhoodandsisterhood,atwhichweaimed,mightfairly
bedatedfromthismoment.Ourgreetingswerehardlyconcludedwhenthedoor
opened, and Zenobia—whom I had never before seen, important as was her
placeinourenterprise—Zenobiaenteredtheparlor.
This (as the reader, if at all acquainted with our literary biography, need
scarcelybetold)wasnotherrealname.Shehadassumedit,inthefirstinstance,
as her magazine signature; and, as it accorded well with something imperial
which her friends attributed to this lady's figure and deportment, they halflaughingly adopted it in their familiar intercourse with her. She took the
appellation in good part, and even encouraged its constant use; which, in fact,
was thus far appropriate, that our Zenobia, however humble looked her new
philosophy,hadasmuchnativeprideasanyqueenwouldhaveknownwhatto
dowith.

III.AKNOTOFDREAMERS
Zenobiabadeuswelcome,inafine,frank,mellowvoice,andgaveeachofus
her hand, which was very soft and warm. She had something appropriate, I
recollect,tosaytoeveryindividual;andwhatshesaidtomyselfwasthis:—"I
have long wished to know you, Mr. Coverdale, and to thank you for your
beautifulpoetry,someofwhichIhavelearnedbyheart;orratherithasstolen
intomymemory,withoutmyexercisinganychoiceorvolitionaboutthematter.
Ofcourse—permitmetosayyoudonotthinkofrelinquishinganoccupationin
whichyouhavedoneyourselfsomuchcredit.Iwouldalmostrathergiveyouup
asanassociate,thanthattheworldshouldloseoneofitstruepoets!"
"Ah, no; there will not be the slightest danger of that, especially after this
inestimablepraisefromZenobia,"saidI,smiling,andblushing,nodoubt,with


excessofpleasure."Ihope,onthecontrary,nowtoproducesomethingthatshall
reallydeservetobecalledpoetry,—true,strong,natural,andsweet,asisthelife
whichwearegoingtolead,—somethingthatshallhavethenotesofwildbirds
twitteringthroughit,orastrainlikethewindanthemsinthewoods,asthecase
maybe."
"Isitirksometoyoutohearyourownversessung?"askedZenobia,witha
gracious smile. "If so, I am very sorry, for you will certainly hear me singing
themsometimes,inthesummerevenings."
"Ofallthings,"answeredI,"thatiswhatwilldelightmemost."
Whilethispassed,andwhileshespoketomycompanions,Iwastakingnote
of Zenobia's aspect; and it impressed itself on me so distinctly, that I can now
summonherup,likeaghost,alittlewannerthanthelifebutotherwiseidentical
withit.Shewasdressedassimplyaspossible,inanAmericanprint(Ithinkthe
dry-goodspeoplecallitso),butwithasilkenkerchief,betweenwhichandher
gowntherewasoneglimpseofawhiteshoulder.Itstruckmeasagreatpieceof
good fortune that there should be just that glimpse. Her hair, which was dark,
glossy, and of singular abundance, was put up rather soberly and primly—
withoutcurls,orotherornament,exceptasingleflower.Itwasanexoticofrare
beauty,andasfreshasifthehothousegardenerhadjustcliptitfromthestem.
Thatflowerhasstruckdeeprootintomymemory.Icanbothseeitandsmellit,
at this moment. So brilliant, so rare, so costly as it must have been, and yet
enduringonlyforaday,itwasmoreindicativeoftheprideandpompwhichhad
aluxuriantgrowthinZenobia'scharacterthanifagreatdiamondhad sparkled
amongherhair.
Herhand,thoughverysoft,waslargerthanmostwomenwouldliketohave,
orthantheycouldaffordtohave,thoughnotawhittoolargeinproportionwith
thespaciousplanofZenobia'sentiredevelopment.Itdidonegoodtoseeafine
intellect (as hers really was, although its natural tendency lay in another
direction than towards literature) so fitly cased. She was, indeed, an admirable
figure of a woman, just on the hither verge of her richest maturity, with a
combination of features which it is safe to call remarkably beautiful, even if
somefastidiouspersonsmightpronouncethemalittledeficientinsoftnessand
delicacy. But we find enough of those attributes everywhere. Preferable—by
way of variety, at least—was Zenobia's bloom, health, and vigor, which she
possessedinsuchoverflowthatamanmightwellhavefalleninlovewithher


for their sake only. In her quiet moods, she seemed rather indolent; but when
reallyinearnest,particularlyiftherewereaspiceofbitterfeeling,shegrewall
alivetoherfinger-tips.
"I am the first comer," Zenobia went on to say, while her smile beamed
warmthuponusall;"soItakethepartofhostessforto-day,andwelcomeyouas
iftomyownfireside.Youshallbemyguests,too,atsupper.Tomorrow,ifyou
please,wewillbebrethrenandsisters,andbeginournewlifefromdaybreak."
"Haveweourvariouspartsassigned?"askedsomeone.
"Oh,weofthesoftersex,"respondedZenobia,withhermellow,almostbroad
laugh,—most delectable to hear, but not in the least like an ordinary woman's
laugh,—"we women (there are four of us here already) will take the domestic
andindoorpartofthebusiness,asamatterofcourse.Tobake,toboil,toroast,
to fry, to stew,—to wash, and iron, and scrub, and sweep,—and, at our idler
intervals,toreposeourselvesonknittingandsewing,—these,Isuppose,mustbe
feminineoccupations,forthepresent.Byandby,perhaps,whenourindividual
adaptationsbegintodevelopthemselves,itmaybethatsomeofuswhowearthe
petticoatwillgoafield,andleavetheweakerbrethrentotakeourplacesinthe
kitchen."
"What a pity," I remarked, "that the kitchen, and the housework generally,
cannot be left out of our system altogether! It is odd enough that the kind of
labor which falls to the lot of women is just that which chiefly distinguishes
artificial life—the life of degenerated mortals—from the life of Paradise. Eve
hadnodinner-pot,andnoclothestomend,andnowashing-day."
"Iamafraid,"saidZenobia,withmirthgleamingoutofhereyes,"weshall
findsomedifficultyinadoptingtheparadisiacalsystemforatleastamonthto
come.Lookatthatsnowdriftsweepingpastthewindow!Arethereanyfigsripe,
do you think? Have the pineapples been gathered to-day? Would you like a
bread-fruit, or a cocoanut? Shall I run out and pluck you some roses? No, no,
Mr.Coverdale;theonlyflowerhereaboutsistheoneinmyhair,whichIgotout
of a greenhouse this morning. As for the garb of Eden," added she, shivering
playfully,"IshallnotassumeittillafterMay-day!"
Assuredly Zenobia could not have intended it,—the fault must have been
entirelyinmyimagination.Buttheselastwords,togetherwithsomethinginher


manner,irresistiblybroughtupapictureofthatfine,perfectlydevelopedfigure,
inEve'searliestgarment.Herfree,careless,generousmodesofexpressionoften
hadthiseffectofcreatingimageswhich,thoughpure,arehardlyfelttobequite
decorous when born of a thought that passes between man and woman. I
imputedit,atthattime,toZenobia'snoblecourage,consciousofnoharm,and
scorningthepettyrestraintswhichtakethelifeandcoloroutofotherwomen's
conversation. There was another peculiarity about her. We seldom meet with
womennowadays,andinthiscountry,whoimpressusasbeingwomenatall,—
theirsexfadesawayandgoesfornothing,inordinaryintercourse.Notsowith
Zenobia.Onefeltaninfluencebreathingoutofhersuchaswemightsupposeto
comefromEve,whenshewasjustmade,andherCreatorbroughthertoAdam,
saying,"Behold!hereisawoman!"NotthatIwouldconveytheideaofespecial
gentleness, grace, modesty, and shyness, but of a certain warm and rich
characteristic,whichseems,forthemostpart,tohavebeenrefinedawayoutof
thefemininesystem.
"Andnow,"continuedZenobia,"Imustgoandhelpgetsupper.Doyouthink
you can be content, instead of figs, pineapples, and all the other delicacies of
Adam'ssupper-table,withteaandtoast,andacertainmodestsupplyofhamand
tongue,which,withtheinstinctofahousewife,Ibroughthitherinabasket?And
thereshallbebreadandmilk,too,iftheinnocenceofyourtastedemandsit."
The whole sisterhood now went about their domestic avocations, utterly
decliningourofferstoassist,furtherthanbybringingwoodforthekitchenfire
from a huge pile in the back yard. After heaping up more than a sufficient
quantity,wereturnedtothesitting-room,drewourchairsclosetothehearth,and
begantotalkoverourprospects.Soon,withatremendousstampingintheentry,
appeared Silas Foster, lank, stalwart, uncouth, and grizzly-bearded. He came
from foddering the cattle in the barn, and from the field, where he had been
ploughing,untilthedepthofthesnowrendereditimpossibletodrawafurrow.
Hegreetedusinprettymuchthesametoneasifhewerespeakingtohisoxen,
tookaquidfromhisirontobacco-box,pulledoffhiswetcowhideboots,andsat
down before the fire in his stocking-feet. The steam arose from his soaked
garments,sothatthestoutyeomanlookedvaporousandspectre-like.
"Well, folks," remarked Silas, "you'll be wishing yourselves back to town
again,ifthisweatherholds."
And,trueenough,therewasalookofgloom,asthetwilightfellsilentlyand


sadly out of the sky, its gray or sable flakes intermingling themselves with the
fast-descendingsnow.Thestorm,initseveningaspect,wasdecidedlydreary.It
seemedtohavearisenforourespecialbehoof,—asymbolofthecold,desolate,
distrustful phantoms that invariably haunt the mind, on the eve of adventurous
enterprises,towarnusbackwithintheboundariesofordinarylife.
Butourcouragedidnotquail.Wewouldnotallowourselvestobedepressed
bythesnowdrifttrailingpastthewindow,anymorethanifithadbeenthesigh
ofasummerwindamongrustlingboughs.Therehavebeenfewbrighterseasons
forusthanthat.Ifevermenmightlawfullydreamawake,andgiveutteranceto
their wildest visions without dread of laughter or scorn on the part of the
audience,—yes,andspeakofearthlyhappiness,forthemselvesandmankind,as
anobjecttobehopefullystrivenfor,andprobablyattained,wewhomadethat
littlesemicircleroundtheblazingfirewerethoseverymen.Wehadlefttherusty
iron framework of society behind us; we had broken through many hindrances
that are powerful enough to keep most people on the weary treadmill of the
establishedsystem,evenwhiletheyfeelitsirksomenessalmostasintolerableas
wedid.Wehadsteppeddownfromthepulpit;wehadflungasidethepen;we
had shut up the ledger; we had thrown off that sweet, bewitching, enervating
indolence,whichisbetter,afterall,thanmost oftheenjoymentswithinmortal
grasp. It was our purpose—a generous one, certainly, and absurd, no doubt, in
full proportion with its generosity—to give up whatever we had heretofore
attained, for the sake of showing mankind the example of a life governed by
other than the false and cruel principles on which human society has all along
beenbased.
And,firstofall,wehaddivorcedourselvesfrompride,andwerestrivingto
supplyitsplacewithfamiliarlove.Wemeanttolessenthelaboringman'sgreat
burdenoftoil,byperformingourdueshareofitatthecostofourownthewsand
sinews.Wesoughtourprofitbymutualaid,insteadofwrestingitbythestrong
handfromanenemy,orfilchingitcraftilyfromthoselessshrewdthanourselves
(if, indeed, there were any such in New England), or winning it by selfish
competitionwithaneighbor;inoneoranotherofwhichfashionseverysonof
woman both perpetrates and suffers his share of the common evil, whether he
choosesitorno.And,asthebasisofourinstitution,wepurposedtoofferupthe
earnesttoilofourbodies,asaprayernolessthananeffortfortheadvancement
ofourrace.
Therefore, if we built splendid castles (phalansteries perhaps they might be


morefitlycalled),and picturedbeautifulscenes,amongthefervid coalsofthe
hearth around which we were clustering, and if all went to rack with the
crumbling embers and have never since arisen out of the ashes, let us take to
ourselvesnoshame.Inmyownbehalf,IrejoicethatIcouldoncethinkbetterof
theworld'simprovabilitythanitdeserved.Itisamistakeintowhichmenseldom
falltwiceinalifetime;or,ifso,therarerandhigheristhenaturethatcanthus
magnanimouslypersistinerror.
StoutSilasFostermingledlittleinourconversation;butwhenhedidspeak,it
was very much to some practical purpose. For instance:—"Which man among
you," quoth he, "is the best judge of swine? Some of us must go to the next
Brightonfair,andbuyhalfadozenpigs."
Pigs!Goodheavens!hadwecomeoutfromamongtheswinishmultitudefor
this?Andagain,inreferencetosomediscussionaboutraisingearlyvegetables
for the market:—"We shall never make any hand at market gardening," said
SilasFoster,"unlessthewomenfolkswillundertaketodoalltheweeding.We
haven'tteamenoughforthatandtheregularfarm-work,reckoningthreeofyour
cityfolksasworthonecommonfield-hand.No,no;Itellyou,weshouldhaveto
get up a little too early in the morning, to compete with the market gardeners
roundBoston."
It struck me as rather odd, that one of the first questions raised, after our
separation from the greedy, struggling, self-seeking world, should relate to the
possibilityofgettingtheadvantageovertheoutsidebarbariansintheirownfield
of labor. But, to own the truth, I very soon became sensible that, as regarded
society at large, we stood in a position of new hostility, rather than new
brotherhood.Norcouldthisfailtobethecase,insomedegree,untilthebigger
andbetterhalfofsocietyshouldrangeitselfonourside.Constitutingsopitifula
minorityasnow,wewereinevitablyestrangedfromtherestofmankindinpretty
fairproportionwiththestrictnessofourmutualbondamongourselves.
Thisdawningidea,however,wasdrivenbackintomyinnerconsciousnessby
the entrance of Zenobia. She came with the welcome intelligence that supper
was on the table. Looking at herself in the glass, and perceiving that her one
magnificentflowerhadgrownratherlanguid(probablybybeingexposedtothe
fervency of the kitchen fire), she flung it on the floor, as unconcernedly as a
village girl would throw away a faded violet. The action seemed proper to her
character,although,methought,itwouldstillmorehavebefittedthebounteous


nature of this beautiful woman to scatter fresh flowers from her hand, and to
revive faded ones by her touch. Nevertheless, it was a singular but irresistible
effect; the presence of Zenobia caused our heroic enterprise to show like an
illusion,amasquerade,apastoral,acounterfeitArcadia,inwhichwegrown-up
menandwomenweremakingaplay-dayoftheyearsthatweregivenustolive
in.Itriedtoanalyzethisimpression,butnotwithmuchsuccess.
"It really vexes me," observed Zenobia, as we left the room, "that Mr.
Hollingsworthshouldbesuchalaggard.Ishouldnothavethoughthimatallthe
sortofpersontobeturnedbackbyapuffofcontrarywind,orafewsnowflakes
driftingintohisface."
"DoyouknowHollingsworthpersonally?"Iinquired.
"No; only as an auditor—auditress, I mean—of some of his lectures," said
she."Whatavoicehehas!andwhatamanheis!Yetnotsomuchanintellectual
man, I should say, as a great heart; at least, he moved me more deeply than I
thinkmyselfcapableofbeingmoved,exceptbythestrokeofatrue,strongheart
againstmyown.Itisasadpitythatheshouldhavedevotedhisgloriouspowers
tosuchagrimy,unbeautiful,andpositivelyhopelessobjectasthisreformation
ofcriminals,aboutwhichhemakeshimselfandhiswretchedlysmallaudiences
so very miserable. To tell you a secret, I never could tolerate a philanthropist
before.Couldyou?"
"Bynomeans,"Ianswered;"neithercanInow."
"They are, indeed, an odiously disagreeable set of mortals," continued
Zenobia."IshouldlikeMr.Hollingsworthagreatdealbetterifthephilanthropy
hadbeenleftout.Atallevents,asamerematteroftaste,Iwishhewouldletthe
badpeoplealone,andtrytobenefitthosewhoarenotalreadypasthishelp.Do
you suppose he will be content to spend his life, or even a few months of it,
amongtolerablyvirtuousandcomfortableindividualslikeourselves?"
"Uponmyword,Idoubtit,"saidI."Ifwewishtokeephimwithus,wemust
systematically commit at least one crime apiece! Mere peccadillos will not
satisfyhim."
Zenobiaturned,sidelong,astrangekindofaglanceuponme;but,beforeI
couldmakeoutwhatitmeant,wehadenteredthekitchen,where,inaccordance
withtherusticsimplicityofournewlife,thesupper-tablewasspread.


IV.THESUPPER-TABLE
Thepleasantfirelight!Imuststillkeepharpingonit.Thekitchenhearthhad
an old-fashioned breadth, depth, and spaciousness, far within which lay what
seemedthebuttofagood-sizedoak-tree,withthemoisturebubblingmerrilyout
atbothends.Itwasnowhalfanhourbeyonddusk.Theblazefromanarmfulof
substantialsticks,renderedmorecombustiblebybrushwoodandpine,flickered
powerfully on the smoke-blackened walls, and so cheered our spirits that we
cared not what inclemency might rage and roar on the other side of our
illuminatedwindows.Ayetsultrierwarmthwasbestowedbyagoodlyquantity
of peat, which was crumbling to white ashes among the burning brands, and
incensed the kitchen with its not ungrateful fragrance. The exuberance of this
householdfirewouldalonehavesufficedtobespeakusnotruefarmers;forthe
New England yeoman, if he have the misfortune to dwell within practicable
distance of a wood-market, is as niggardly of each stick as if it were a bar of
Californiagold.
Butitwasfortunateforus,onthatwintryeveofouruntriedlife,toenjoythe
warmandradiantluxuryofasomewhattooabundantfire.Ifitservednoother
purpose,itmadethemenlooksofullofyouth,warmblood,andhope,andthe
women—such of them, at least, as were anywise convertible by its magic—so
verybeautiful,thatIwouldcheerfullyhavespentmylastdollartoprolongthe
blaze. As for Zenobia, there was a glow in her cheeks that made me think of
Pandora,freshfromVulcan'sworkshop,andfullofthecelestialwarmthbydint
ofwhichhehadtemperedandmouldedher.
"Take your places, my dear friends all," cried she; "seat yourselves without
ceremony,andyoushallbemadehappywithsuchteaasnotmanyoftheworld's
working-people,exceptyourselves,willfindintheircupsto-night.Afterthisone
supper, you may drink buttermilk, if you please. To-night we will quaff this
nectar,which,Iassureyou,couldnotbeboughtwithgold."
We all sat down,—grizzly Silas Foster, his rotund helpmate, and the two
bouncing handmaidens, included,—and looked at one another in a friendly but
rather awkward way. It was the first practical trial of our theories of equal


brotherhood and sisterhood; and we people of superior cultivation and
refinement(forassuch,Ipresume,weunhesitatinglyreckonedourselves)feltas
if something were already accomplished towards the millennium of love. The
truthis,however,thatthelaboringoarwaswithourunpolishedcompanions;it
being far easier to condescend than to accept of condescension. Neither did I
refrainfromquestioning,insecret,whethersomeofus—andZenobiaamongthe
rest—wouldsoquietlyhavetakenourplacesamongthesegoodpeople,savefor
thecherishedconsciousnessthatitwasnotbynecessitybutchoice.Thoughwe
sawfittodrinkourteaoutofearthencupsto-night,andinearthencompany,it
wasatourownoptiontousepicturedporcelainandhandlesilverforksagaintomorrow. This same salvo, as to the power of regaining our former position,
contributed much, I fear, to the equanimity with which we subsequently bore
manyofthehardshipsandhumiliationsofalifeoftoil.IfeverIhavedeserved
(whichhasnotoftenbeenthecase,and,Ithink,never),butifeverIdiddeserve
tobesoundlycuffedbyafellowmortal,forsecretlyputtingweightuponsome
imaginary social advantage, it must have been while I was striving to prove
myselfostentatiouslyhisequalandnomore.ItwaswhileIsatbesidehimonhis
cobbler'sbench,orclinkedmyhoeagainsthisowninthecornfield,orbrokethe
same crust of bread, my earth-grimed hand to his, at our noontide lunch. The
poor,proudmanshouldlookatbothsidesofsympathylikethis.
The silence which followed upon our sitting down to table grew rather
oppressive; indeed, it was hardly broken by a word, during the first round of
Zenobia'sfragranttea.
"Ihope,"saidI,atlast,"thatourblazingwindowswillbevisibleagreatway
off. There is nothing so pleasant and encouraging to a solitary traveller, on a
stormynight,asafloodoffirelightseenamidthegloom.Theseruddywindow
panescannotfailtocheertheheartsofallthatlookatthem.Aretheynotwarm
withthebeacon-firewhichwehavekindledforhumanity?"
"Theblazeofthatbrushwoodwillonlylastaminuteortwolonger,"observed
Silas Foster; but whether he meant to insinuate that our moral illumination
wouldhaveasbriefaterm,Icannotsay.
"Meantime,"saidZenobia,"itmayservetoguidesomewayfarertoashelter."
And,justasshesaidthis,therecameaknockatthehousedoor.


"Thereisoneoftheworld'swayfarers,"saidI."Ay,ay,justso!"quothSilas
Foster."Ourfirelightwilldrawstragglers,justasacandledrawsdorbugsona
summernight."
Whethertoenjoyadramaticsuspense,orthatwewereselfishlycontrasting
ourowncomfortwiththechillanddrearysituationoftheunknownpersonatthe
threshold, or that some of us city folk felt a little startled at the knock which
came so unseasonably, through night and storm, to the door of the lonely
farmhouse,—soithappenedthatnobody,foraninstantortwo,arosetoanswer
the summons. Pretty soon there came another knock. The first had been
moderately loud; the second was smitten so forcibly that the knuckles of the
applicantmusthavelefttheirmarkinthedoorpanel.
"He knocks as if he had a right to come in," said Zenobia, laughing. "And
whatarewethinkingof?—ItmustbeMr.Hollingsworth!"
Hereupon I went to the door, unbolted, and flung it wide open. There, sure
enough,stoodHollingsworth,hisshaggygreatcoatallcoveredwithsnow,sothat
helookedquiteasmuchlikeapolarbearasamodernphilanthropist.
"Sluggishhospitalitythis!"saidhe,inthosedeeptonesofhis,whichseemed
tocomeoutofachestascapaciousasabarrel."Itwouldhaveservedyourightif
Ihadlaindownandspentthenightonthedoorstep,justforthesakeofputting
youtoshame.Buthereisaguestwhowillneedawarmerandsofterbed."
And, stepping back to the wagon in which he had journeyed hither,
Hollingsworth received into his arms and deposited on the doorstep a figure
enveloped in a cloak. It was evidently a woman; or, rather,—judging from the
easewithwhichheliftedher,andthelittlespacewhichsheseemedtofillinhis
arms, a slim and unsubstantial girl. As she showed some hesitation about
enteringthedoor,Hollingsworth,withhisusualdirectnessandlackofceremony,
urged her forward not merely within the entry, but into the warm and strongly
lightedkitchen.
"Whoisthis?"whisperedI,remainingbehindwithhim,whilehewastaking
offhisgreatcoat.
"Who? Really, I don't know," answered Hollingsworth, looking at me with
somesurprise."Itisayoungpersonwhobelongshere,however;andnodoubt
she had been expected. Zenobia, or some of the women folks, can tell you all


aboutit."
"Ithinknot,"saidI,glancingtowardsthenew-comerandtheotheroccupants
of the kitchen. "Nobody seems to welcome her. I should hardly judge that she
wasanexpectedguest."
"Well,well,"saidHollingsworthquietly,"We'llmakeitright."
Thestranger,orwhatevershewere,remainedstandingpreciselyonthatspot
ofthekitchenfloortowhichHollingsworth'skindlyhandhadimpelledher.The
cloak falling partly off, she was seen to be a very young woman dressed in a
poorbutdecentgown,madehighintheneck,andwithoutanyregardtofashion
or smartness. Her brown hair fell down from beneath a hood, not in curls but
with only a slight wave; her face was of a wan, almost sickly hue, betokening
habitualseclusionfromthesunandfreeatmosphere,likeaflower-shrubthathad
doneitsbesttoblossomintooscantylight.Tocompletethepitiablenessofher
aspect,sheshiveredeitherwithcold,orfear,ornervousexcitement,sothatyou
mighthavebeheldhershadowvibratingonthefire-lightedwall.Inshort,there
hasseldombeenseensodepressedandsadafigureasthisyounggirl's;andit
was hardly possible to help being angry with her, from mere despair of doing
anythingforhercomfort.Thefantasyoccurredtomethatshewassomedesolate
kindofacreature,doomedtowanderaboutinsnowstorms;andthat,thoughthe
ruddiness of our window panes had tempted her into a human dwelling, she
would not remain long enough to melt the icicles out of her hair. Another
conjecturelikewisecameintomymind.RecollectingHollingsworth'ssphereof
philanthropicaction,Ideemeditpossiblethathemighthavebroughtoneofhis
guilty patients, to be wrought upon and restored to spiritual health by the pure
influenceswhichourmodeoflifewouldcreate.
Asyetthegirlhadnotstirred.Shestoodnearthedoor,fixingapairoflarge,
brown, melancholy eyes upon Zenobia—only upon Zenobia!—she evidently
sawnothingelseintheroomsavethatbright,fair,rosy,beautifulwoman.Itwas
thestrangestlookIeverwitnessed;longamysterytome,andforeveramemory.
Oncesheseemedabouttomoveforwardandgreether,—Iknownotwithwhat
warmth or with what words,—but, finally, instead of doing so, she dropped
down upon her knees, clasped her hands, and gazed piteously into Zenobia's
face.Meetingnokindlyreception,herheadfellonherbosom.
I never thoroughly forgave Zenobia for her conduct on this occasion. But


womenarealwaysmorecautiousintheircasualhospitalitiesthanmen.
"What does the girl mean?" cried she in rather a sharp tone. "Is she crazy?
Hasshenotongue?"
AndhereHollingsworthsteppedforward.
"Nowonderifthepoorchild'stongueisfrozeninhermouth,"saidhe;andI
think he positively frowned at Zenobia. "The very heart will be frozen in her
bosom,unlessyouwomencanwarmit,amongyou,withthewarmththatought
tobeinyourown!"
Hollingsworth's appearance was very striking at this moment. He was then
aboutthirtyyearsold,butlookedseveralyearsolder,withhisgreatshaggyhead,
hisheavybrow,hisdarkcomplexion,hisabundantbeard,andtherudestrength
withwhichhisfeaturesseemedtohavebeenhammeredoutofiron,ratherthan
chiselledor moulded fromanyfineror softermaterial.Hisfigure was not tall,
butmassiveandbrawny,andwellbefittinghisoriginaloccupation;whichasthe
reader probably knows—was that of a blacksmith. As for external polish, or
mere courtesy of manner, he never possessed more than a tolerably educated
bear;although,inhisgentlermoods,therewasatendernessinhisvoice,eyes,
mouth,inhisgesture,andineveryindescribablemanifestation,whichfewmen
couldresistandnowoman.Buthenowlookedsternandreproachful;anditwas
with that inauspicious meaning in his glance that Hollingsworth first met
Zenobia'seyes,andbeganhisinfluenceuponherlife.
Tomy surprise,Zenobia—ofwhose haughty spiritI had beentoldso many
examples—absolutelychangedcolor,andseemedmortifiedandconfused.
"Youdonotquitedomejustice,Mr.Hollingsworth,"saidshealmosthumbly.
"Iamwillingtobekindtothepoorgirl.Issheaprotegeeofyours?WhatcanI
doforher?"
"Have you anything to ask of this lady?" said Hollingsworth kindly to the
girl."Irememberyoumentionedhernamebeforewelefttown."
"Only that she will shelter me," replied the girl tremulously. "Only that she
willletmebealwaysnearher."
"Well,indeed,"exclaimedZenobia,recoveringherselfandlaughing,"thisis


anadventure,andwell-worthytobethefirstincidentinourlifeofloveandfreeheartedness! But I accept it, for the present, without further question, only,"
addedshe,"itwouldbeaconvenienceifweknewyourname."
"Priscilla,"saidthegirl;anditappearedtomethatshehesitatedwhetherto
addanythingmore,anddecidedinthenegative."Praydonotaskmemyother
name,—atleastnotyet,—ifyouwillbesokindtoaforlorncreature."
Priscilla!—Priscilla!Irepeatedthenametomyselfthreeorfourtimes;andin
thatlittlespace,thisquaintandprimcognomenhadsoamalgamateditselfwith
myideaofthegirl,thatitseemedasifnoothernamecouldhaveadheredtoher
foramoment.Heretoforethepoorthinghadnotshedanytears;butnowthatshe
foundherselfreceived,andatleasttemporarilyestablished,thebigdropsbegan
to ooze out from beneath her eyelids as if she were full of them. Perhaps it
showedtheironsubstanceofmyheart,thatIcouldnothelpsmilingatthisodd
sceneofunknownandunaccountablecalamity,intowhichourcheerfulpartyhad
been entrapped without the liberty of choosing whether to sympathize or no.
Hollingsworth'sbehaviorwascertainlyagreatdealmorecreditablethanmine.
"Letusnotpryfurtherintohersecrets,"hesaidtoZenobiaandtherestofus,
apart; and his dark, shaggy face looked really beautiful with its expression of
thoughtfulbenevolence."LetusconcludethatProvidencehassenthertous,as
thefirst-fruitsoftheworld,whichwehaveundertakentomakehappierthanwe
findit.Letuswarmherpoor,shiveringbodywiththisgoodfire,andherpoor,
shiveringheartwithourbestkindness.Letusfeedher,andmakeheroneofus.
As we do by this friendless girl, so shall we prosper. And, in good time,
whateverisdesirableforustoknowwillbemeltedoutofher,asinevitablyas
thosetearswhichweseenow."
"Atleast,"remarkedI,"youmaytellushowandwhereyoumetwithher."
"An old man brought her to my lodgings," answered Hollingsworth, "and
beggedme to convey herto Blithedale, where—so I understood him—she had
friends;andthisispositivelyallIknowaboutthematter."
GrimSilasFoster,allthiswhile,hadbeenbusyatthesupper-table,pouring
outhisownteaandgulpingitdownwithnomoresenseofitsexquisitenessthan
ifitwereadecoctionofcatnip;helpinghimselftopiecesofdipttoastontheflat
of his knife blade, and dropping half of it on the table-cloth; using the same


serviceable implement to cut slice after slice of ham; perpetrating terrible
enormities with the butter-plate; and in all other respects behaving less like a
civilized Christian than the worst kind of an ogre. Being by this time fully
gorged,hecrownedhisamiableexploitswithadraughtfromthewaterpitcher,
andthenfavoreduswithhisopinionaboutthebusinessinhand.And,certainly,
thoughtheyproceededoutofanunwipedmouth,hisexpressionsdidhimhonor.
"Givethegirlahotcupofteaandathicksliceofthisfirst-ratebacon,"said
Silas,likeasensiblemanashewas."That'swhatshewants.Letherstaywithus
aslongasshelikes,andhelpinthekitchen,andtakethecow-breathatmilking
time;and,inaweekortwo,she'llbegintolooklikeacreatureofthisworld."
Sowesatdownagaintosupper,andPriscillaalongwithus.

V.UNTILBEDTIME
SilasFoster,bythetimeweconcludedourmeal,hadstriptoffhiscoat,and
plantedhimselfonalowchairbythekitchenfire,withalapstone,ahammer,a
piece of sole leather, and some waxed-ends, in order to cobble an old pair of
cowhide boots; he being, in his own phrase, "something of a dab" (whatever
degreeofskillthatmayimply)attheshoemakingbusiness.Weheardthetapof
hishammeratintervalsfortherestoftheevening.Theremainderoftheparty
adjourned to the sitting-room. Good Mrs. Foster took her knitting-work, and
soonfellfastasleep,stillkeepingherneedlesinbriskmovement,and,tothebest
ofmyobservation,absolutelyfootingastockingoutofthetextureofadream.
And a very substantial stocking it seemed to be. One of the two handmaidens
hemmedatowel,andtheotherappearedtobemakingaruffle,forherSunday's
wear,outofalittlebitofembroideredmuslinwhichZenobiahadprobablygiven
her.
It was curious to observe how trustingly, and yet how timidly, our poor
PriscillabetookherselfintotheshadowofZenobia'sprotection.Shesatbeside
her on a stool, looking up every now and then with an expression of humble
delight at her new friend's beauty. A brilliant woman is often an object of the
devoted admiration—it might almost be termed worship, or idolatry—of some


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